The Princess and the Mouse
The Princess and the Mouse
Once upon a time in the desert there lived a princess named Safia. One day, a wicked magician disguised as an old woman approached Safia.
“Princess,” he croaked, “let me be your washerwoman and clean your sheets.”
“Certainly,” said Princess Safia, who wanted to help the old woman. “Come to my rooms and I will give you my sheets to wash.”
So the disguised magician followed the princess. In the blink of an eye, he stuffed her into a laundry bag and ran away as fast as he could. Using an evil spell, he made her as small as a doll and put her away in a cupboard.
The next day, the magician found the palace in an uproar.
“Princess Safia has vanished” said the grand vizier.
The wicked magician smiled at his success.
The next day, the queen was weeping in her garden when the magician entered, disguised as a washerwoman. He put her into a laundry bag and turned her into a doll no bigger than his thumb.
The next day he captured the king in the same fashion, turned him into a doll, and put him in a cupboard with his wife, the queen.
The grand vizier pleaded with the magician, “Please tell us what to do!”
“Until your king, queen, and princess return, let me be your ruler,” said the magician. The people agreed. So the wicked magician began to rule, feeling confident that the royal family was locked away forever in the cupboard.
But one day a mouse nibbled its way into the cupboard where Princess Safia was hidden.
“Mouse,” whispered the tiny princess, “eat a hole in this cupboard and let me out. My father is the king, and he'll reward you.”
“Haven't you heard? The king and queen have disappeared,” said the mouse. “The magician is now the ruler of all the land.”
“I can't believe it,” cried the princess. “Can the wicked magician have captured them too?”
Together, they searched the cabinet and found the king and queen stuffed into the top shelf. But they were as stiff as wood, because the magician had cast a different spell upon them.
“Princess,” said the mouse, “tonight when the moon rises, come with me to the wise woman who lives in a hollow tree. She will be able to help you.”
So, when the moon rose, they hurried to the hollow tree and climbed in.
“To save your family,” said the wise woman, giving the princess a magic grass seed, “you must find an orange-colored horse by the crossroads. Give him this magic grass seed to eat, and whisper into his ear, ‘Take me, Orange Horse, to where the sacred pear tree grows, so that I may pick the pear from its topmost branch.’”
“And then will I grow back to my regular size?” asked the princess.
“Not until the wicked magician is dead,” said the wise woman. “Ride to the Well of the Green Ogre. Drop the pear into the well. The magician's soul is in the pear, and if it is devoured by the ogre, the magician will die.”
“What will happen then?” the princess asked.
“All the creatures turned into other shapes by the magician will return to their original forms.”
The princess thanked the wise woman and ran until she reached the crossroads where there stood an orange horse.
“Take me, Orange Horse,” said Safia, “to the tree where the sacred pears grow, so I can pick the topmost pear from its branches.”
The horse put down his head. Safia fed him the magic grass seed and then climbed on. The horse galloped away.
They arrived in a beautiful orchard with a single pear tree. She climbed into the branches and picked the pear from the topmost branch.
“Now, dear horse, take me to the Well of the Green Ogre,” she whispered in the horse's right ear. The horse galloped off and soon they reached the well.
Inside the well, Safia saw an ogre's head, as big as a wagon wheel. She took the pear and dropped it right into the Green Ogre's slimy, smelly mouth, and he instantly chewed the pear into bits.
Safia then found herself growing back to her own size. That meant the wicked magician was dead!
Safia hurried back to the palace, where she found the king and queen, who were their normal size again.
Safia went to the hollow tree to thank the wise woman. But the tree was gone! Instead, she saw a tall handsome young man dressed in regal clothing.
“Dear Princess,” he said, “the wise woman is gone.”
“How do you know this?” demanded the princess.
“I was the mouse, another victim of the magician's enchantment.”
“Come with me to my father so that he can thank you,” said Safia.
Together they went, and the young man knelt before the king.
“Please stay here and marry my daughter,” said the king.
So they were married in a wedding feast attended by thousands, and they lived and ruled happily ever after.